In the quiet of our apartment after a quick afternoon snooze, I’m going to try to put my thoughts together.
This wild adventure began on August 28, 2008 when we first saw Aiden’s picture on Reece’s Rainbow. You know the story. The next two months were a non-stop swirl of paperwork and preparation of our dossier to get approval to adopt from Ukraine, all the while falling more and more in love with a little boy named Aiden. Our dossier was finally submitted and approved in November. We received our travel date in December and here we are six months later beginning the month long process of wading through Ukrainian adoption procedures to get our TWO children home where they belong.
WEDNESDAY: Our SDA appointment was a huge deal because not only were praying with all our hearts that they would actually give us Aiden’s referral, but we were there to (within a few minutes) choose another child to call our own. As our facilitator said, “It’s not like you’re buying a car.” The bottom line is that we had laid our willingness before the Lord, and He answered with provision and by giving us two other things. First, Isabelle had a dream. In the dream she was at the orphanage tucking a little girl into bed. Aiden walked over, she smiled and lifted her finger to her lips and said “shhhhhh.” End of dream. Secondly, the Lord gave us a name “Emma Ann.” With all three of our adoptions the Lord has given me a name within days of saying yes to their adoptions. Names are important to me. His whisper of her name into my ear was a very big deal to my heart.
So four papers representing the lives of four precious children were laid before us. Two were boys and two were girls. One boy was not even adoptable after all because he had a sibling and siblings cannot be separated. Then after a bit of flipping in big binders, we were told that one of the little girls was not adoptable either because she also had a sibling who was in another orphanage. And because we knew our second would be a girl, that left “Anastasia” before us. So for us it was a “no-brainer.” There she was. She was ours. The fact that “Anastasia” is as close to a Russian form of “Ann” as their is, was another blessing to us. They then proceeded to read off her diagnosis, which were being translated to us and hard to understand anything more specific than some kind of heart issue and some kind of brain issue. My thoughts at that were basically, “Ok, Lord, you must trust us to be able to handle this, so here we go.”
I cannot begin to tell you how much my heart felt like a ping pong match within a period of the few minutes we waited for those papers to be presented to us. Fluctuating from fear and panic and all the “what if’s” of the human heart, to reminding myself to “guard my heart,” to fear and panic, to remembering the goodness of God in our lives and that His mercies never cease, to fear and panic, to leaning on my Beloved and trusting His unending love for me. I’m so glad He loves me in spite of my unsteady heart.
THURSDAY: We returned to SDA the following day to pick up our referrals. The referral is what is needed in order for us to be given access to see the children and begin the legal process of petitioning to adopt them. When we returned and walked into the office the woman asked for our passports, we presented them, and she set out our our dossier with a paper on top of it. One paper, not two. There was a lot of Ukrainian dialogue back and forth. I was with it enough to tell that one of the two children’s referral’s was not there. Back to the ping pong game in my heart. “Guard your heart, Tracie. Trust the Father.”
We were then told that due to a new adoption law, we could not get Anastasia’s referral with out filling out a new form because she and Aiden were not siblings. We needed to fill out a new request to adopt her and get it notarized and then wait for her referral. So we leave. Our facilitator whisks us through town while making numerous phone calls, and we end up at what I assume was an attorney’s office. There we “sit” and wait as they draft the form needed to request a referral for Anastasia. I sit there slightly jealous of the office girls attire and handbags. We get the referral and are now really “cutting it close” to make it to the train (see John’s post). I was honestly almost WANTING to miss the train and be forced to hire a driver to take us to Kiev at one point.
We board the train (see John’s post for gaps in the story). My chest was burning from the run. You know I’m no athlete, but this was over the top for anyone! John mentioned his 50 lb suitcase and backpack. Well his suitcase had wheels and my TWO back packs did not! It was the equivalent of running full speed ahead, like your life depended on it, with two toddlers strapped to your body.
Fast forward… off the train. Deep sigh. Happy to see Sergei our facilitator here in Novograd. Happy to sit in his little car. Happy to be alive.
We make it our apartment and pretty much crash. Any inconveniences of apartment live in Ukraine are largely overshadowed by the joy of being with my children each day. Knowing that this journey is short in the life long reality of what is ahead for them. I can bear the tiny trickling stream of hot water, the not so comfy bed, the lack of modern conveniences that we take for granted every day because two lives have stolen my heart and nothing else really matters.
FRIDAY: Our first meeting was with Aiden (because we didn’t have Anastasia’s referral). We were in the deputy director’s office (John says later he didn’t even realize we were at the orphanage). We had been asked a few questions and had been given an overview of Aiden’s medical file. (by the way, they say the MD’s in Ukraine said his heart issues are minor and he doesn’t need surgery). The door opens and without any announcement or forewarning, in walks our “Bubbo Aiden” all bundled up in snow pants, coat, hat and gloves! When you meet Aiden, you will quickly learn that he enters a room as if to say, “I’m here! What are we going to do?” The nurse with him took off his coat, hat and gloves. I’ll pause now to say that the shock factor of his sudden entry was so funny to me that I didn’t have the emotional melt down that I thought I would have. I reached out my hand to him, and he reached both arms up to me, and of course I scooped him right up. The deputy director got him a cookie from her closet which he snacked on while I marveled at the fact that this child of my heart was now sitting in my arms. When his cookie was done, we pulled a couple things from our backpack, a small stuffed monkey and a child proof family photo book. He kept kissing the monkey, which was absolutely precious. Then we showed him pictures of Momma, Pappa, Nick, Taylor, Isabelle, and Elia. He kissed everyone’s picture and got especially excited with a big smile when he saw Elia’s photo. Our visit was short and more precious than words can express.
We then got in the car and went to the Inspectors office. She met with us and asked about our family. She was thrilled to see pictures of Derek and Renee’s children happy and at home. She was very very happy about that. She asked if we wanted to adopt these two children. We said YES and she said, “I am very happy about this.” And we left.
We then returned to the orphanage, apparently we now we had permission to see Anastasia, even without her referral. We were told to “sit” again, and they brought her in to us. Anastasia was a bit more reserved than Aiden at first, but within a few minutes was sitting on Pappa’s lap with a book in hand! Our visit with her was very brief. It was obvious to me that there was definitely damage from alcohol while in the womb, but I could see so much life ready to burst out of this precious girl.
We had lunch then and a bit of a break and returned to the orphanage for our evening visit (the first photos you saw of the kids). We had an incredible time with the children that first day. They were just thrilled with every new thing they pulled out of my bag of toys. Aiden just went from one thing to the next and got a huge kick out of throwing things on the ground for us to pick up. He was laughing so hard at one point that his whole body was shaking. He spend a good deal of time (10 minutes is a good deal of time for Aiden) stacking cups with Pappa and knocking them down. Emma Anastasia loves the etcha-sketch and the paper and crayons that I bought. We might have another Loux artist on our hands. She was fascinated by the crayons. Aiden was too, but he was fascinated with trying to eat them.
SATURDAY: Today the kids rushed right to us when they were brought to the door of our visiting room. The nurses point us out as Momma and Pappa, which feels really good. Today was a shorter visit in the morning. We played. Aiden got rides in the rolling back pack. Anastasia loved for daddy to toss her up in the air (gently of course) and catch her. She was laughing with delight. The most beautiful sound to my ears.
We are headed back to visit the children soon, but I wanted to get my thoughts down before we left and catch you up with a lengthy post of our adventures here. So much is going on in our hearts regarding the adoption of these two children. When I feel more eloquent, I will try to capture those thoughts in words.